March 8, 2012

What Next?: Film Editor

What a day in the life of this creative job might be like.

Scott: Hi. Is Taylor Hamilton available?

We are going to fly you out to California and you are going to spend the day with an Academy Award winning director and you are going to see how they edited Disney’s new film John Carter. Are you so excited or what?

Talyor Hamilton: Yes!

Scott: Well, we will see you soon!

Taylor: Alrighty.

Scott: We picked her up at the airport and we are off to meet the Academy Awarding winning director of Finding Nemo and Wall E, and one of his top editors.

This is Taylor. She wants to be a video editor.

“Well you’ve come to the right place. This is Barsoom Productions. This is where we, sort of, work on all the posts, which is what you do after you’ve shot the movie for John Carter.”

Scott: Andrew Stanton has just shot his first live action movie.

Tell me about this film John Carter. It seems really bigger than life, but what is it actually about?

“It’s a about a Civil War veteran named John Carter who finds himself mysteriously on the surface of Mars. He falls in love with the most beautiful princess on the planet.”

Scott: So, now that we have met the director, it was time to meet the person we had come to see — the film editor.

This is Taylor. This is Erik, one of the editors on John Carter. Erik Jessen has been editing movies for 11 years, like Twilight: The Eclipse.

So, what program are you editing on now?

“This is Apple’s Final Cut Pro. You might be familiar with it. A lot of students use it. A lot of people use its little brother iMovie on their Mac.”

Scott: To learn more about editing, lets look at our footage of us walking down the hall and meeting andrew. An editor can take that long walk and shorten it, and then cuts to us shaking hands with andrew. The editor selects the best footage to tell the story.

This is taylor.

Looks familiar right? Now, getting back to John Carter.

Andrew shot 180-hours of footage, which is loaded into the editing system.

“When we get everything in, we start looking at your script and start piecing it all together.”

Scott: To make it as visually interesting as possible, the editor decides when to go from a wide shot to a close up, back out again, and whether to go to a different angle.

To create a scene like this from John Carter, this computer-generated space creature actually starts out as a cartoon.

“Once we get the cut to a point where we don’t think it will change that much, we give it to a visual effects company and the visual effects artists start to work on an animation shot. And you can see here the character is more video game like but eventually it will look like this in the final movie.”

Scott: The final version is made with what is called computer generated images, or cgi.

So, what do I study in hs and college if I want to be an editor?

“You sort of have to be a geek. It helps to love film. It’s very computer oriented. You’re always having to keep abreast of new technology all the time.”

Aspiring film editors should start shooting and editing home movies or video for your school’s TV show, if it has one. And definitely join your school’s broadcast or audio visual club.

After high school, you should enroll in an editing course or film school. Some employers may require a bachelor’s degree.

When you get a job, be ready to work long hours. Film editors can make between $2,000 and $10,000 a week, but since the work is project by project and not consistent, there may be periods when they don’t get paid.

And for Taylor?

So, what do you think? Does an editor seem like something you might want to do?

Taylor: Definitely, still an editor.

Scott: So, did you have fun?

Taylor: Yes. Thanks for taking me to Disney, Channel One!

Scott: Come on, let’s get you to the airport.

When Taylor got to the airport she made a final recording about her trip.

Taylor: It was awesome, amazing, fantabulous! I don’t know what that word is. I stole it from Scott.


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